Sex in the Kitchen

Sex in the kitchen is not what it used to be.

For men of my father’s generation, the kitchen stove was a woman’s place and home cooking an almost entirely feminine task. Men did other things. Granted, the kitchen sink was sometimes less gendered territory, but the distance between the tasks of cooking and washing up was vast. Today that distance is considerably shorter.

I am one of six sons. At least four of us are seasoned home cooks. No longer limited to washing up, men have moved from sink to stove in considerable numbers. Indeed, things have changed, but perhaps not as much as we imagine. Research still points to women carrying the lion’s share of domestic responsibilities. That’s certainly so in the kitchen. While men are cooking at home more than they ever have, generally the nature of the cooking they do is different.

As social researcher Rebecca Huntley observes, men are more motivated by cooking as performance and place a higher value on the development of technical skill over the nurturing of those they cook for. It’s true: while the male cook is lauded as the ‘kitchen hero’ on weekends, it is still women who keep the family fed and watered during the week: ‘the deeply gendered distinction between cooking as a vocation—as technical skill—and cooking as a domestic chore—as caring work—holds fast.’

So, while sex in the kitchen may be different to what it once was, it is, according to Huntley, ‘still in the missionary position.’

UnknownRebecca Huntley, Eating Between the Lines: Food and Equality in Australia, Melbourne: Black Inc, 2008, 80.

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